You are sitting in front of a computer screen or standing in an electrical warehouse surrounded by shiny kitchen appliances – what do you chose?
The best thing is to be fairly clinical – just what do you need your cooker, washing machine or fridge to achieve?
You need to study several things:
- Cost – how much can you afford?
- Size – can it cope with your family’s needs/do you really need something that big?
- Where is it going to stand, not forgetting the importance of the location of gas pipes and electrical connections?
- Look carefully at the size of the appliance. Check that it will fit under a worktop.
- In these environmentally friendly times, how energy efficiency is the appliance? The closer to the beginning of the alphabet the more energy efficient, and therefore cheaper it is to run.
- Can you fit this yourself or do you need professional help?
Nowadays these come in a number of choices – freestanding, built-in, range-style, integrated ovens and hobs.
Whatever you buy you need to ensure it will fit in the allotted space, a consideration even more vital for built-in ovens.
Look at the size and number of ovens you will need – it can be practical to have the option of a small second oven.
The majority of new kitchens have fitted ovens rather than freestanding, but one that catches the eye in some larger kitchens is a range-style cooker.
Although smaller ranges are available, most need quite a bit of elbowroom – up to 150cm. They usually consist of two or more ovens and several hob burners.
Fan ovens have the advantage of distributing heat more evenly, thereby avoiding problems of more intense warmth near the elements.
The choice here is often down to personal preference – some people like using gas, others prefer electricity.
Gas hobs give instant heat that is easily controlled, although ceramic electric hobs with an induction zone, or halogen plates can give the same degree of control.
Solid electrical hobs tend to be the cheapest to buy, although they can be slow to heat up and cool down, making them more expensive to use. Solid hobs with a red dot heat much faster, making them worth the investment.
Look for the wash capacity of a machine; the standard wash load is 5kg for a front-loading machine, although some machines will take up to 7kgs. A range of spin speeds will deal with fabrics, from delicates to those that retain most water.
For the bulk of the washing the lowest speed to aim for is 1,000 rpm.
Look for the range of washes available – do they suit all your needs?
A machine’s energy efficiency is well worth checking out. The rating of the machine means an A or AA indicates the most efficient for use of energy and water.
Is there a kitchen in the land without a microwave?
These compact and easy-to-use appliances can save lots of time and money when it comes to defrosting or heating food.
Today’s combinations of microwave, convection oven and grill give the option of cooking food in a more traditional style but in less time and using less energy. The only drawback is the size if you are planning to cook a meal for the family.
These combination microwaves are an excellent solution for couples or people living on their own who want a meal that isn’t just defrosted or warmed through, but don’t want to use a larger oven.
Microwaves can be freestanding or built in and are usually easy to wipe clean inside simply using hot soapy water.
Fridges and freezers
As fridges and freezers are the second largest consumer of energy, after central heating, it is worth looking around for one that gives a high energy efficiency rating. Fridges go up to A++.
Another environmentally friendly tip is that buying fridges with a R600a refrigerant means it will not deplete the ozone layer, as it is not a significant greenhouse gas.
When it comes to capacity look carefully too. Two fridges of identical size may be totally different inside – considerably reducing the amount of storage space.
Some fridges have compartments with a special storage compartment for meat; it works at a lower temperature to give added protection.
Split shelves can be an asset. They give the option of using both sections at the same level or to split the shelf to stand taller items such as bottles.
Another tip is to look for a fridge with an alarm to warn if the door isn’t shut properly.
Most fridges come with a small freezer compartment, which is handy to store frozen food. A four-star freezer box is the only one recommended for actually freezing fresh food. Those with three or less stars will keep frozen food for periods of between three and 12 months.